So far, Blair Walsh's comeback bid with Seahawks is right on track

SEATTLE -- After Blair Walsh connected on a 52-yard field goal Friday night, he took a few steps toward the Minnesota Vikings' sideline and pointed right at his former coaches and teammates.

Later, Walsh made another 52-yarder and did the same thing. This time, his new teammates were waiting for it. Richard Sherman raced onto the field with a huge grin on his face. It felt like the moment that Walsh officially became a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

Afterward in the locker room, the veteran kicker was fired up. He said his former team had been taunting him and that he was just responding. Walsh tried to downplay the whole thing, but clearly a part of him loved it.

"I simply was just responding to getting taunted," he said. "I didn't say anything. When you've got guys who were your teammates for five years yelling at you when you're trying to kick, it's just odd. And I hope they were in jest. And I hope they didn't mean it because I didn't mean anything with mine, but it was definitely not out of nowhere."

At this time last year, Walsh was on the Vikings. He was trying to turn the page on the 2015 season that ended with a missed 27-yard field goal attempt against the Seahawks that would have sent the Vikings to the divisional round of the playoffs. But Walsh was unable to do so. In 2016, he missed four extra point attempts in Minnesota's first nine games and was 12-for-16 on field goal attempts. The Vikings released him in November.

Walsh flew home to Southern California and hit the practice field at Orange Coast College. He watched film of himself and tried to make mechanical tweaks. For the first time in five years, he spent Sundays in front of a TV watching football instead of playing it.

"For me, it was frustrating because I knew I belonged up there -- not just in the league but at the top of it," Walsh said. "That's just how I am. It might come across as too confident. But you have to have it if you want to play in this league."

Walsh then made a visit to Florida to see sports psychologist Bob Rotella, who works with golfers such as Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington.

"He helped me a lot with just my mindset," Walsh said. "I have all the tools and the right attitude. But I just needed to adjust it a little bit and make sure my focus is on the right stuff on game days. And I feel good. He's just helped me develop a mental side to it that's helping."

During the spring, Walsh was inconsistent. It looked as if the kicking game was going to be a major question mark for the Seahawks going into the season after they let Steve Hauschka leave in free agency.

But this summer has been a different story. Walsh is 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts in two preseason games, with his only miss coming on a 53-yarder that hit the crossbar. He has made all eight of his extra point attempts and looked great on kickoffs.

It's a small sample size, and Walsh will have to prove himself in the regular season. So far, his comeback attempt is right on track.

"We are getting him at a time when he really has something to prove," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "He has been a tremendous worker for us, really diligent worker. He is a very good athlete, too. You can see he has soccer background in him and all that. He has a big leg though, too. We haven't seen a ball pop up in the air like this in years."

Walsh said Carroll's positive approach was just what he needed.

"Here, they just bring something out of you that makes you more confident, makes you enjoy the game, makes you relax a little bit," Walsh said.

"Pete's always there supporting us. If you had a good practice, he's going to tell you. If you had a bad practice, he'll tell you, too. And that's fair. He's here to support you and bring the best out of you. They're not sugarcoating anything. They're just supporting you. And that's different than sometimes in other environments. It's been a blast here so far. But in order for it to work, you've got to produce on the field."

As for the missed 27-yard field goal attempt, Walsh clearly doesn't like talking about it. Whether it's fair or not, that kick is the one Vikings fans will think of when they hear his name.

"It's one of those things where in the moment it's not fun, and it's not easy to go through," Walsh said. "But it was something that I was in control of. For me, it's just so far in the past that I just don't think about it. The only time I think about it is when it's brought up or mentioned to me."

The Seahawks organization has embraced the idea of grit over the years. It wants players who are capable of overcoming obstacles, guys who view failure as an opportunity for growth.

Walsh is on a one-year deal that contains no guaranteed money. The stint with the Seahawks allows him the opportunity to show he can overcome adversity and turn his career around.

"I understand the position," he said. "You've got to make kicks to stay in the league. I had made a lot for [the Vikings]. But for me, I knew that my next opportunity I wanted to make my last. I wanted to make that my permanent home."